Face of man who created Hell has been revealed after 700 years | Tech News

Caption: Dante Alighieri, the man who showed us what Hell looked like, face rebuilt and fleshed out
Provider: Cicero Moraes/Pen News/Pexels

This is the face of Hell.

Well, kind of of. Scientists have rebuilt a depiction of what Dante Alighieri, the Italian 13th-century poet who created our vision of the afterlife, looks like.

Dante’s face has long been a mystery, with portrait artists after his death in 1321 never quite agreeing on what he actually looked like.

But now the moral philosopher’s real face will be seen for the first time in 700 years after experts used his skull to create a more accurate image.

Dante became an icon of Western literature with his writing and is most well known for Divine Comedy, a poem which described a journey into Heaven, Hell, and purgatory.

His version of Hell is used as a blueprint describing an inferno of nine circles where the worst offenders are sent to the deepest reaches, and sinners receive ironic punishments for their misdeeds.

Now a new study using modern techniques, such as 3D images, scientists have digitally recreated the appearance of the literary behemoth – and he looks slightly different than we first thought.

In Botticelli’s 1495 portrait of Dante in profile, the writer is shown to have a long nose and pointed chin and a similar image of the writer that appears in a fresco in Florence cathedral.

The man created our vision of Hell (Picture: Credit: Cicero Moraes/Pen News Source)
One for the Tinder profile (Picture: Cicero Moraes/Pen News)
Dante’s version of Hell (Picture: Bridgeman via Getty)

But the new 3D image of Dante shows he had a less pronounced chin, an aquiline nose and without the downwards point he was previously depicted with.

Brazilian graphics expert Cicero Moraes, the study’s lead author, described why traditional depictions of the poet came up short.

‘Most are based on the information contained in the biography of Dante composed by the writer Boccaccio,’ he said.

‘Namely, that he was an individual of medium height, somewhat stooped, with a long face, an aquiline nose and eyes that were more large than small.

‘However, Boccaccio did not know Dante personally and collected reports from people close to the poet and who lived with him. All approximations seem to follow Boccaccio’s descriptions, but we seek to do strictly what the bones indicate.’

The authors recreated the Italian poet’s skull using a 1921 analysis of his bones, reinforced with data from a 2007 article about his face.

A 1495 depiction of Dante by Sandro Botticelli (Picture: Pen News)

‘Two sets of images were generated, one with an objective approach, in grayscale, without hair and with eyes closed,’ he said.

‘And another in colour and with subjective elements, such as the colour of the eyes, skin and clothing, according to the best-known images.’

Dante was unhappily exiled from his native Florence in 1302 and died in Ravenna in 1321.

‘It shows a brilliant man, but embittered by exile,’ said Mr Moraes.

The project also revealed that Dante – who is often hailed as the father of the Italian language – had a larger-than-average skull.

‘It was full of universality that influenced not only world literature but also the organisation of a language and – maybe exaggerating a little – the creation of an entire nation,’ he continued.

Scientists rebuilt his face from his skull (Picture: Cicero Moraes/Pen News)

‘I felt very honoured to work on this; my great-grandparents were Italian and my mother spoke a language from the region until she was 17 years old.

‘Bringing Dante’s face approximation is, in a way, a tribute to my own family’s history.’

Mr Moraes and his co-author, Dr Thiago Beaini of the Federal University of Uberlândia, published their study in the 3D computer graphics journal OrtogOnLineMag.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at

For more stories like this, check our news page.

MORE : Colombia calls in the robots to help raise £16 billion bounty lost at sea

MORE : Singles are giving AI their browsing history to help find love

MORE : The US has lost three nuclear bombs (possibly six)


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.